Smith, Dicks & Baird: A Chorus of Lies on FISA

[Front paged: NM]

Last Friday Norn Dicks, Brian Baird and Adam Smith betrayed the people of America and voted with the Republican Party to hand George Bush a major victory in his project to eviscerate the Constitution and establish a regime of unchecked executive power.  The so-called "compromise" FISA bill ended any hope of accountability for our runaway President or the telecommunication companies who criminally conspired to violate our rights and invade our lives.

Fine.  No surprise there with these guys.

What is a surprise is the unbelievable dishonesty all three Congressmen are employing to rationalize their shameful cave-in.  Statements released over the weekend by the offices of all three include strikingly similar language that can only be described as bald-faced lies.  It's one thing to vote for crappy public policy.  It's quite another to lie to our faces about it.

It's pretty clear when you read the statements on FISA from Congressmen Smith, Baird and Dicks, that the three get their talking points from the same place.  Much of the language is similar - almost word-for-word - and the sentiments are nearly identical.  Maybe it's coming from the Speaker's office? Maybe the DLC or the obnoxious Third Way? Or maybe their staff simply pow-wow'd to get their stories straight.  Certainly we will never know. What is clear, however, is that much of what they say is flatly and brazenly untrue.

To begin with, all three Congressmen make the false claim that the existing FISA law somehow restricted our ability to monitor foreign terrorist communications overseas.


U.S. intelligence agencies complained that the 1978 law hampered their ability to conduct effective counterterrorism surveillance on foreign targets


The bill increases our nation's security by ensuring there is no gap in intelligence collection against terrorists...


I believe it was important to seize this opportunity to implement the improvements and clarifications in the legal framework of the FISA law that are contained in this legislation, ensuring  that legitimate surveillance of foreign individuals can be accomplished in the future...

These statements are absurd.  FISA, as these Congressmen most certainly know, never restricted our ability to conduct "surveillance on foreign targets," or "foreign individuals." There is no such "gap in intelligence collection." The restrictions contained in FISA have always applied solely to "U.S. persons." To suggest that this had anything to do with "foreign" terrorists is a flat-out lie.

OK, you say, that's just quibbling over semantics. Well it gets worse.

All three Congressmen also make the flatly untrue claim that the new FISA law would require the government to obtain a warrant whenever the target of surveillance is a U.S. citizen.


the bill... Clarifies that to conduct surveillance of a person in the U.S., or any U.S. citizen abroad, the government must first obtain an individual warrant from the FISA court based on probable cause.


It ensures that US citizens living here and abroad can't and won't be targeted without a proper warrant and probable cause.


A warrant is also necessary to conduct surveillance on foreign individuals inside the United States...

Did these guys even read the bill? Surely these Congressmen know full well the new legislation actually only requires judicial approval for the overall surveillance program, not for individual citizens. The system of court oversight they describe is really a much better description of the current system than the one they voted for on Friday. There is no conceivable way in which eliminating the requirement that the government ask for individual warrants can honestly be described as "requiring" warrants.  No semantics there, just a flat-out lie.

Finally, both Adam Smith and Brain Baird falsely describe the retroactive legal immunity they approved for the lawbreaking telecoms as somehow "limited."


The bill also rejects the Senate bill's provisions granting automatic retroactive immunity for telecommunications providers...


the bill... rejects automatic immunity for telecommunications companies

This lie gets the award for being the most Orwellian. The logic here is downright crazy. You see, the bill requires the courts to throw out any case involving warrantless surveillance provided that the Bush Administration asserts that there was no illegal conduct. This would be fine, if A) we lived in a society where the President and the Attorney General were the ones charged with interpreting the law rather than the courts and B) if the administration's arguments in favor of the program's legality were not already known to be deeply flawed. The problem, as Smith and Baird undoubtedly know, is that the administration's arguments in favor of the legality of the program were so flimsy that not even John Ashcroft would authorize the program.

Since Congress has not taken its duty to investigate Bush's wrongdoing seriously, lawsuits against the telecom companies are currently the main mechanism through which evidence of government misconduct can be discovered. For this reason, taking the Bush administration's legal fig leaves at face value and granting immunity on that basis is precisely the opposite of "rejecting" immunity.  Another brazen lie.

To his credit, Norm Dicks rejects this last bit of flim-flam in his press release and instead says he remains "unsatisfied with the provisions addressing telecommunications companies..."  But of course he still had to vote for the bill, or the tarra-ists would come and get you.

I can live with my Democratic Congressmen disagreeing with my views on public policy.  I can even get over it when they do things as downright unconstitutional as passing this law (didn't you get the hint from the SCOTUS on the Military Commissions Act Adam?).  What I just can't stand is the dishonesty.  Vote however you want to guys, we can't seem to stop you. But for the love of God:


< NY Times: President Bush Is Winning Iraq War. - Updated | On Buying Out The Fleet, Or, Here's A Gas War We Can Win >
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'journalists' will be able to tell us a bunch of sell out conventional wisdom on why this sell out to the fascists appeals to the fascist defined:

'centrist' ...


Mr. 29% Must Be Dancing in the White House!

His public support exists ONLY among the most hard core flat earthers,

his political party is in the minority in the house and in the senate,

AND he can count on a whole bunch of 'Democratic' 'leaders' to use fascist talking points AND vote fascist!

Oh Happy Day!



by rmdSeaBos on Mon Jun 23, 2008 at 09:55:21 PM PST

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This is a statewide blog.  Everyone knows about it.  So why are our representatives not posting responses to accusations of being a sell-out?  Getting form letters in response to emails is not enough.

I'll forgive someone who is willing to stand by a vote and declare their reasons for it in public, either in a meeting or on a public blog like Washblog.  Until our reps have the courage to stand up and take responsibility for their vote, they're not asking for our support.

by chadlupkes on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 06:42:34 AM PST

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Perhaps they didn't want to -- but were simply told what to do.

by noemie maxwell on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 12:06:19 PM PST

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